Education in Uganda
Many see education in Uganda as the key to the future, however it remains under-invested in with often poorly trained teachers and classes with sometime upwards of a hundred pupils. Indeed recently teachers of primary seven children (those taking their exams to progress to secondary school) were asked to take the exam themselves and 75% failed! Education is
provided through a mix of private and government funded schools ~
however the education even at government schools is not free as
families have to pay to "rent" the classrooms, provide money for
food for the teachers and buy school equipment such as paper,
toilet rolls and brushes etc. These "charges" often mean children
from poorer families are "chased" from school when the monies are
not forthcoming and they remain excluded until they are. Many
There are five schools in Ruhanga itself; three primary schools and two secondary schools. The nearest university is in Mbarara.
Typically children have seven years of primary education (P1-P7) taking exams at the end of each year which they must pass in order to progress. It is therefore not uncommon to see classes with children of very different ages because of this and also because many children start school late. Those who pass their PLE's (Primary Leaving Exams) then go onto four years of secondary education and at the end of S4 (secondary four) they will either stay in education for a further two years to take their Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (A levels) or leave and pursue a vocational path at various vocational training centres.
For many, learning a trade is a preferred option as out of a workforce of some 35,000,000 there are only around 35,000 formal jobs in Uganda making higher education desirable but not
necessarily the best path to pursue to earn a much needed income
where there is no welfare safety net. Those who achieve a
Grade 1 in their PLEs ~ Primary Leaving Exams ~ (that's an
aggregate of 12 or less with an aggregate of four being the top
mark possible in the four subjects of English language,
mathematics, science and social studies) will normally be entitled
to a bursary to assist with their secondary education often around
150,000/- a term off fees of some 400,000/- ~ making access to
better performing schools within the reach of some families.
As such, many
parents prefer to send their children to boarding school as it is
widely recognised that children who are freed from the daily grind
of gathering firewood, collecting water and other household tasks
perform better at school when boarding. Students achieving below a
Grade 1 do not receive a bursary and, as such, many then drop out
of school as the costs are beyond their family's reach.